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Medicine and drugs to help you refine your essence?

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  • #16
    There's a lot of stuff in Scroll of the Monk.

    Stats for a Bat'leth, for example.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
      A few, however those did squat for exalts and enlightened/heroic mortals are no longer a thing.
      True, but they as a thing per se are gone, but then we have individuals like Mist the Revolutionary, a man who returned from a quest to the borders of Creation changed, with a essence pool, artifact and some powers like charms, along with some complications/mental changes suffered in the process.

      I could see some sort of arcane substance producing similar results, giving a form of power to the unexalted individual, while transforming it through a dependence/vice as all-encompasssing to the user as Mist's obsession with bringing down all rulers is to him. Substances such as Ghost Flower Tea make for another, less extreme example of footholds into the world of supernatural that may be acessed by either mortal or exalt without the right kind of charms.

      Tools for one to tinker with exist and that can be good enough on itself, imho.
      Last edited by Baaldam; 05-23-2018, 10:21 PM.

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      • #18
        I'm using the bad version of drugs in my eventual game to create an Underworld based threat. An underworld strain of poppies that are a deep red, and they stain the users teeth red with prolonged use. The danger is that they poison the lower po soul of a person. Making hungry ghosts when people go into OD comas and quickly twisting into Mortwights. Solar PCs will hopefully stop the epidemic. DBs from Cynis just want competition to their supplies in the area gone. Liminals nearby ponder it for a power boost.
        As for good versions, i like the 'communing' a wood aspect would likely do, and any Solar Cult could easily burn things and enjoy some incense type items. I loved the Cult of Ecstasy from Mage: Ascension, so the idea makes a lot of sense, and could be an intriguing flaw to take on a new Solar, unaware that their own power is now unlocked, assuming its just the drugs.

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        • #19
          Honestly, I'd considering trying to fuck around with Essence and mote regen levels (ESPECIALLY in-combat) as an Unforgivable Sin on par with Immortality. There has to be a catch, a big enough one that it's not a no-brainer.
          I'm thinking of the Ledaal thing written in WFhW - suuuuuuure you get cosmic elemental power, but MAN are you going to pay for your 15 minutes of fame.
          If you want a soft solution that doesn't {BLEEP} you up? Well, you gonna have to settle with some dice bonuses, with mild complications attached (scarcity, nearby laboratory, light aftereffects like headaches or tachycardia)

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          • #20
            It's not so much I think that it has to have a catch. It just has to be interesting to jusitfy itself narratively beyond "I want a dude who just moves motes around."


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            • #21
              Perhaps the use of certain drugs allow exalted to get a higher essence level ahead of schedule? For instance, the Deadly Dragon Breath, that grows once in a hundred years, allows for the Exalted who ingests it to get to the next level of essence 20 xp earlier than he would normally. Other lesser effects could shave just a little from the requirements, a few xp for spicy foods, and so on.

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              • #22
                Honestly, xp cuts and such sound like a very, bad, bad, idea that could snowball into book-keeping mess pretty fast.

                I feel like a straight bonus to Essence, extra motes or something along those lines - with the potential for colaterals in substance abuse and such - might make for a simpler yet more dynamic venue to explore such a conceit.

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                • #23
                  While I didn't intend to talk about mechanics...

                  Thinking about it, part of the issue with applying this to Exalted is that Exalted doesn't really make raising your Essence itself a "feat". There's no associated mechanical difficulty - it's just something that happens automatically as you accumulate experience.

                  Whereas in the sorts of xianxia novels that use this kind of thing (which very, very heavily share the same influences as Exalted), refining your enlightenment is pretty much the most important feat in the genre, often more important than the actual fights. Like... if I were writing a system for that genre, progression mechanics would need an entire chapter to themselves. Just automatically progressing in power over time goes against the entire concept of the genre to the point where the mechanics and thematics would clash if you tried to do it that way.

                  Exalted has sometimes wrestled with this, though. Acquiring training is thematically vital and (in many cases) mechanically unnecessary. The areas where it is most thematically important - Sorcery and MA - sort of have it hacked in as necessary via initiations and SMA, but outside of a few very specific situations, "finding the secret training manual for a long-lost martial art" or whatever ends up just being fluff for a particular method of progression that isn't going to be any superior to any other method of progression. Sure, you can say that you're only allowed to learn a specific MA or spell or whatever from a particular source, but it's never going to be dramatically better than any other way of spending your XP, so some of the thrill of acquiring it is lost.

                  Compare that to how Artifacts are treated and it's obvious that despite all its efforts to be the un-D&D, Exalted was really heavily influenced by D&D Monty Haul thematics. (ie. finding a powerful artifact is mechanically significant and immediately makes you more powerful; finding a long-lost martial art or spellbook, while it can be made significant, usually isn't mechanically going to be accompanied by a boost in power in the same way, since you keep advancing at the same XP rate no matter what.)

                  A proper xianxia game would need to be designed from the ground up to treat knowledge and secret techniques as mechanically-important things you collect to progress and gain power the same way other games treat legendary artifacts (not that it wouldn't also have those.)
                  Last edited by Aquillion; 06-02-2018, 07:16 AM.

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                  • #24
                    To be honest, considering artefacts, I'm not sure how much Exalted games really are focused on acquiring things that make characters more powerful *at all*. In terms of actual reported games. And contra D&D.

                    Like, in most reported play, it seems like most Exalts have like, one or two artefacts, and they're not very essential to the character's power overall, and losing them is often no significant insurmountable hardship.

                    Where artefacts mattered in the 2e game, they are usually standardised, easily substitutable goods that were no significant hardship to acquire - standard Grand Daiklaive as part of a standard loadout through Artefact background, just offering big generic damage numbers, with no implication that characters should actually "quest" for it.

                    In 3e, where artefacts matter, its through evocations, which are acquired in the same manner as Charms or Sorcery, though with a few more hooks and conditions.

                    Further, artefacts in Exalted are mostly stylish, and play into the minigame of character design, offering iconic symbols which integrate with a character and give them a stylish individual fighting style; they don't stand aside from the character as collectable, necessary tools to defeat particular opponents.

                    It's like, Cloud has the Buster Sword and always has the Buster Sword, Thor has Mjolnir and always has Mjolnir; an iconic tool that defines them, and it mostly informs how they fight, to the degree it has mechanical reality, rather than who they can win against. It's not like, Jim the Fighter *must* acquire the fire sword to defeat the water boss, then *must* get the holy sword to defeat the undead boss, and so on and so forth. (This process is generally vastly extended in D&D derived CRPGs compared to their tabletop equivalents!).

                    It's not really a "collecty" sort of game design at all, in any way, where characters quest to get things of any sort.

                    (Weapons of the Gods is a game that I vaguely recall going to effort to include the idea that loresheets for Secret Arts and powerful techniques that were rare, back when wuxia games were sort of a A Thing. Though even then, the titular Weapons of the Gods were hugely important, because they were important in the manhua license, which certainly wasn't indifferent to artefacts of vast power.)

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                      Thinking about it, part of the issue with applying this to Exalted is that Exalted doesn't really make raising your Essence itself a "feat". There's no associated mechanical difficulty - it's just something that happens automatically as you accumulate experience.

                      Whereas in the sorts of xianxia novels that use this kind of thing (which very, very heavily share the same influences as Exalted), refining your enlightenment is pretty much the most important feat in the genre, often more important than the actual fights. Like... if I were writing a system for that genre, progression mechanics would need an entire chapter to themselves. Just automatically progressing in power over time goes against the entire concept of the genre to the point where the mechanics and thematics would clash if you tried to do it that way.
                      ​Considering that Essence raises after having spent a certain amount of XP (even with the associated necessary meditation scene), I think that one way to play it would be as the development of skills and acquisition of powers being part of an ongoing narrative of self-exploration and discovery. Perhaps even spice the meditation up a bit by describing a process that integrates the experiences that lead up to it.

                      ​What you're saying with mechanics just around the process of progression... there are ways, in very different systems, that do it all right, but in something like Exalted it just sounds tedious.

                      Originally posted by Aquillion
                      Exalted has sometimes wrestled with this, though. Acquiring training is thematically vital and (in many cases) mechanically unnecessary. The areas where it is most thematically important - Sorcery and MA - sort of have it hacked in as necessary via initiations and SMA, but outside of a few very specific situations, "finding the secret training manual for a long-lost martial art" or whatever ends up just being fluff for a particular method of progression that isn't going to be any superior to any other method of progression. Sure, you can say that you're only allowed to learn a specific MA or spell or whatever from a particular source, but it's never going to be dramatically better than any other way of spending your XP, so some of the thrill of acquiring it is lost.
                      ​I would need to check back, but I'm pretty sure that the book says that learning spells and martial arts without some kind of instruction is not possible at all.


                      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                      Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
                        I would need to check back, but I'm pretty sure that the book says that learning spells and martial arts without some kind of instruction is not possible at all.
                        Sure, but the fact that you have to check shows that it's not hugely central to the game.

                        I'm thinking of a game where the core gameplay cycle is "use your awesome skills to adventure to acquire secrets, medicines, powerful patrons, etc" -> "use those things to refine your enlightenment and develop your power." Ars Magica is probably a better reference for that sort of game than Exalted, thinking about it, since it's a game where your advancement as a Magus is very closely tied to what you're doing in-play. It even has Vis, which is treated very similarly to how xianxia novels treat cultivation medicines and the like.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                          Sure, but the fact that you have to check shows that it's not hugely central to the game.
                          That is some specious reasoning there, person.

                          ​Half the time, I don't want to comment on something like Ma-Ha-Suchi's current disposition without confirming it in the book first, just because I recognise the fallibility of my own memory as a general thing.

                          ​It's probably more central if anybody wants to play a dedicated sorcerer or martial artist, if a Storyteller is going to read the book and insist that people follow how those things work.

                          But at the same time, that it doesn't need to be a big deal is not necessarily some big oversight.

                          It's a very heavily stuffed game, and that it does not emphasize the particular genre elements that you personally regard as important does not strictly constitute a failing.

                          ​Although who knows, perhaps a future book that gets to talk about sorcery and the martial arts without also needing to make room for the setting, the base mechanics, introducing the core Exalted, introducing all of the other Exalted, and a couple hundred pages worth of Charms will be able to dedicate more talking space to the significance of finding teachers or manuals with which to learn spells and techniques.

                          Originally posted by Aquillion
                          I'm thinking of a game where the core gameplay cycle is "use your awesome skills to adventure to acquire secrets, medicines, powerful patrons, etc" -> "use those things to refine your enlightenment and develop your power." Ars Magica is probably a better reference for that sort of game than Exalted, thinking about it, since it's a game where your advancement as a Magus is very closely tied to what you're doing in-play. It even has Vis, which is treated very similarly to how xianxia novels treat cultivation medicines and the like.
                          ​Mage: the Awakening Second Edition also doubled down on the first Edition's concept of Arcane Experience, making the idea of acquiring arcane knowledge in play a major component of character advancement, to the point that a given character's dedicated pursuit is marked down on their character sheet as a personal Mystery for which they receive significant benefits. Plus the development of the concept of Mage Sight in terms of being able to peel back metaphysical layers of the world to see its underlying mechanisms and find clues for what mysteries to pursue.

                          ​Hmm, that reminds me... I think part of what you're talking about is also covered in the Solar XP and equivalents of Castes or Aspects that would be focused on the acquisition of knowledge. What you're saying has me thinking that a bit of talk about how to create stories around the development and pursuit of such goals could be a useful thing to seek in the Storyteller's Guide.

                          ​Looking at it now, the first half of my post is a bit saltier than I like, and I apologise for that.


                          I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                          Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                          https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                          • #28
                            I don't know Isator; it seems like Aquillion's post is fair game to me.

                            There are game designs that drive players down very specific stories within play in order to drive their characters towards power.

                            Exalted's default, compare to that, looks more like... you get exp per session at a steady state, and there are not huge amounts of tools to influence that (in the game out of the box), other than, admittedly, Solar exp, and you don't practically face many limitations to your character's personal (not political) power based on what you choose to do in play.

                            It's kind of "free" like that - it's mostly driven by your character's goals and ambitions and social relationships, and how those play out in your group dynamics, rather than their need to do certain things to acquire experience / more powers. (And that's generally the thrust of Exalted: The Solars - you're very free to design whatever character you want, within the limitations of Castes, then you start at more-or-less peak Solar in an Ability of your choosing, and mostly work up breadth and filling in weak points around that, rather than the pressure of working up to be "This tall to ride"? It's a very free design?)

                            And probably that's a selling point actually. But there are other ways to do things, other designs which prescribe very much where a character can go, and require them to do very proscribed things in play, and which make successfully doing those things very rewarding in terms of character capabilities?

                            (That's my perspective; an actual play perspective on how accurate this is, or if that's all complete rubbish, would probably be much more useful ).

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